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FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 166115. February 2, 2007.

McDONALD'S CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MACJOY FASTFOOD CORPORATION, respondent. Facts: On 14 March 1991, respondent MacJoy Fastfood Corporation, a domestic corporation engaged in the sale of fast food products in Cebu City, filed with the then Bureau of Patents, Trademarks and Technology Transfer (BPTT), now the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), an application for the registration of the trademark "MACJOY & DEVICE" for fried chicken, chicken barbeque, burgers, fries, spaghetti, palabok, tacos, sandwiches, halo-halo and steaks under classes 29 and 30 of the International Classification of Goods. Petitioner McDonald's Corporation, a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, USA, filed a verified Notice of Opposition 3 against the respondent's application claiming that the trademark "MACJOY & DEVICE" so resembles its corporate logo, otherwise known as the Golden Arches or "M" design, and its marks "McDonalds," McChicken," "MacFries," "BigMac," "McDo," "McSpaghetti," "McSnack," and "Mc," (hereinafter collectively known as the MCDONALD'S marks) such that when used on identical or related goods, the trademark applied for would confuse or deceive purchasers into believing that the goods originate from the same source or origin. Respondent denied the aforementioned allegations of the petitioner and averred that it has used the mark "MACJOY" for the past many years in good faith and has spent considerable sums of money for said mark's extensive promotion in trimedia, especially in Cebu City where it has been doing business long before the petitioner opened its outlet thereat sometime in 1992; and that its use of said mark would not confuse affiliation with the petitioner's restaurant services and food products because of the differences in the design and detail of the two (2) marks. The IPO, ratiocinating that the predominance of the letter "M," and the prefixes "Mac/Mc" in both the "MACJOY" and the "MCDONALDS" marks lead to the conclusion that there is confusing similarity between them especially since both are used on almost the same products falling under classes 29 and 30 of the International Classification of Goods, i.e., food and ingredients of food, sustained the petitioner's opposition and rejected the respondent's application. Finding no confusing similarity between the marks "MACJOY" and "MCDONALD'S," the CA, in its herein assailed Decision 7 dated July 29, 2004, reversed and set aside the appealed IPO decision and order. Issue: Whether or not there is a confusing similarity between the MCDONALD'S marks of the petitioner and the respondent's "MACJOY & DEVICE" trademark Held: The Supreme Court is not the proper venue to consider factual issues as it is not a trier of facts. Nevertheless, when the factual findings of the appellate court are mistaken, absurd, speculative, conjectural, conflicting, tainted with grave abuse of discretion, or contrary to the findings culled by the court of origin, as here, this Court will review them. The old Trademark Law, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 166, as amended, defines a "trademark" as any distinctive word, name, symbol, emblem, sign, or device, or any combination thereof adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant on his goods to identify and distinguish them from those manufactured, sold, or dealt in by others. Essentially, the issue here is whether there is a confusing similarity between the MCDONALD'S marks of the petitioner and the respondent's "MACJOY & DEVICE" trademark when applied to Classes 29 and 30 of the International Classification of Goods, i.e., food and ingredients of food. In determining similarity and likelihood of confusion, jurisprudence has developed two tests, the dominancy test and the holistic test. The dominancy test focuses on the similarity of the prevalent features of the competing trademarks that might cause confusion or deception. In contrast, the holistic test requires the court to consider the entirety of the marks as applied to the products, including the labels and packaging, in determining confusing similarity. Under the latter test, a comparison of the words is not the only determinant factor. Here, the IPO used the dominancy test in concluding that there was confusing similarity between the two (2) trademarks in question as it took note of the appearance of the predominant features "M", "Mc" and/or "Mac" in both the marks. In trademark cases, particularly in ascertaining whether one trademark is confusingly similar to another, no set rules can be deduced because each case must be decided on its merits. Applying the dominancy test to the instant case, the Court finds that herein petitioner's "MCDONALD'S" and respondent's "MACJOY" marks are confusingly similar with each other such that an ordinary purchaser can conclude an association or relation between the marks. To begin with, both marks use the corporate "M" design logo and the prefixes "Mc" and/or "Mac" as dominant features. The first letter "M" in both marks puts emphasis on the prefixes "Mc" and/or "Mac" by the similar way in which they are depicted i.e. in an arch-like, capitalized and stylized manner. For sure, it is the prefix "Mc," an abbreviation of "Mac," which visually and aurally catches the attention of the consuming public. Verily, the word "MACJOY" attracts attention the same way as did "McDonalds," "MacFries," "McSpaghetti," "McDo," "Big Mac" and the rest of the MCDONALD'S marks which all use the prefixes Mc and/or Mac. Besides and most importantly, both trademarks are used in the sale of fastfood products. Indisputably, the respondent's trademark application for the "MACJOY & DEVICE" trademark covers goods under Classes 29 and 30 of the International Classification of Goods, namely, fried chicken, chicken barbeque, burgers, fries, spaghetti, etc. Likewise, the petitioner's trademark registration for the MCDONALD'S marks in the Philippines covers goods which are similar if not identical to those covered by the respondent's application.

In the case at bar, the predominant features such as the "M," "Mc," and "Mac" appearing in both McDonald's marks and the MACJOY & DEVICE" easily attract the attention of would-be customers. Even non-regular customers of their fastfood restaurants would readily notice the predominance of the "M" design, "Mc/Mac" prefixes shown in both marks. Such that the common awareness or perception of customers that the trademarks McDonalds mark and MACJOY & DEVICE are one and the same, or an affiliate, or under the sponsorship of the other is not far-fetched. The differences and variations in styles as the device depicting a head of chicken with cap and bowtie and wings sprouting on both sides of the chicken head, the heart-shaped "M," and the stylistic letters in "MACJOY & DEVICE;" in contrast to the arch-like "M" and the one-styled gothic letters in McDonald's marks are of no moment. These minuscule variations are overshadowed by the appearance of the predominant features mentioned hereinabove. Thus, with the predominance of the letter "M," and prefixes "Mac/Mc" found in both marks, the inevitable conclusion is there is confusing similarity between the trademarks Mc Donald's marks and "MACJOY AND DEVICE" especially considering the fact that both marks are being used on almost the same products falling under Classes 29 and 30 of the International Classification of Goods i.e. Food and ingredients of food. With the existence of confusing similarity between the subject trademarks, the resulting issue to be resolved is who, as between the parties, has the rightful claim of ownership over the said marks. A mark is valid if it is distinctive and hence not barred from registration under the Trademark Law. However, once registered, not only the mark's validity but also the registrant's ownership thereof is prima facie presumed. Pursuant to Section 37 27 of R.A. No. 166, as amended, as well as the provision regarding the protection of industrial property of foreign nationals in this country as embodied in the Paris Convention 28 under which the Philippines and the petitioner's domicile, the United States, are adherent-members, the petitioner was able to register its MCDONALD'S marks successively, i.e., "McDonald's" in 04 October, 1971; the corporate logo which is the "M" or the golden arches design and the "McDonald's" with the "M" or golden arches design both in 30 June 1977; and so on and so forth. On the other hand, it is not disputed that the respondent's application for registration of its trademark "MACJOY & DEVICE" was filed only on March 14, 1991 albeit the date of first use in the Philippines was December 7, 1987. 32 Hence, from the evidence on record, it is clear that the petitioner has duly established its ownership of the mark/s. Respondent's contention that it was the first user of the mark in the Philippines having used "MACJOY & DEVICE" on its restaurant business and food products since December, 1987 at Cebu City while the first McDonald's outlet of the petitioner thereat was opened only in 1992, is downright unmeritorious. For the requirement of "actual use in commerce . . . in the Philippines" before one may register a trademark, trade-name and service mark under the Trademark Law 33 pertains to the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and is not only confined to a certain region, province, city or barangay. Thus, the IPO was correct in rejecting and denying the respondent's application for registration of the trademark "MACJOY & DEVICE."
Petition GRANTED.